‘Wicked Frickin’ Cringe’: The 10 Most Loved (And Most Hated) American Slang Words

When it comes to regional slang words across America, people sure do love having a conniption.
Slang can be useful. It can also be annoying.
Slang can be useful. It can also be annoying. / Carol Yepes/Moment via Getty Images

American slang is everywhere. Often regional, it speaks to the living organism that is language and may help engender a sense of community that might even approach exclusivity. (Do people say “bang a uey,” or make a u-turn, outside of Boston? Hopefully not.)

Recently, word puzzle advice hub WordTips made an attempt to summarize the slang words that are seemingly the most loved and most hated throughout the country. As this can be a difficult thing to parse, WordTips relied on dialect-heavy areas like Boston, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, then assessed their slang terms via upvotes or downvotes on Urban Dictionary. Here’s what they found:

An infographic on slang terms is pictured
Click for full-size. / WordTips

While it gets a lot of usage in Texas, conniption appears to be embraced everywhere. The noun means a fit of rage or hysteria and is often used derisively to indicate someone is having an emotional reaction disproportionate to the problem. “Don’t have a conniption” could be deployed when someone is upset over a desired parking space being filled, for example, or a theater being sold out of Dune: Part Two novelty popcorn buckets.

Wicked, which is popular in Boston, came in second. It means very or extremely. Someone might have a wicked bad batting average on the Red Sox; that new Ben Affleck Dunkin’ commercial might be wicked good. (In contrast, another Boston word for extremely, ripper, is among the most hated slang words.)

Slang like frickin’, cringe, and boo have also escaped the confines of their regions. Of the top 10, only Grabowski may prove puzzling to people outside of Chicago. As you might suspect, it derives from a surname—in this case, Jim Grabowski, a popular Chicago football personality. Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka referred to his team as “grabowskis” in the 1980s, meaning they were a tough, blue-collar crew with a strong work ethic.

The Most Hated Slang

It’s complimentary to call a Chicagoan a Grabowski. It’s less flattering to use the word slashie, a highly local term for a combination bar and liquor store. The establishments themselves are popular—residents seem to like the idea of getting a drink poured and then taking the bottle home—but the phrase itself appears to grate on local nerves.

Chicago also ranks for Chicago overcoat, mafia slang for a coffin. It peaked in popularity in the 1930s, when novelist Raymond Chandler used it in his classic The Big Sleep.

Colorado Kool-Aid, or a Coors beer, was popularized by the song of the same name by Johnny Paycheck. In 2011, The Houston Press dubbed it the “best bar fight song of all-time,” which may give you some idea of its place in popular culture.

Howzit, a popular greeting in Hawaii, also scored low marks, as did Seattle's Vitamin R, which is slang for Rainer Beer.

WordTips also offered region-specific favorites. For New York, it was cringe, yerrr, whip, deadass, and snack. For Chicago, it was Grabowski, clout, sammich, dibs, and jagoff.

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